A bridge has collapsed in northern Washington causing some vehicles to plunge several stories to the waters below in a shocking accident on Thursday evening.
The bridge, Interstate 5, is a main thoroughfare connecting the United States and Canada with 70,000 vehicles a day crossing the bridge. Even with the bridge's traffic volume only three vehicles wound up in the icy waters below; three people were subsequently rescued and taken to local area hospitals.
Two of those rescued had to be treated for hypothermia, police said. Officials were looking into reports of an oversized truck causing the collapse, according to Travis Phelps of the Washington State Department of Transportation and Washington State Patrol.
"We're looking at the cause being an oversized, over-height vehicle, striking critical portions of this bridge, causing it to collapse," he said in a statement.
The collapse occurred on the portion of Interstate 5 that spans the Skagit River, which is about two hours north of Seattle. The National Transportation Safety Board said they will send a team to investigate the collapse.
"N/B and S/B lanes of I-5 Skagit River Bridge collapsed," Washington State Trooper Mark Francis posted on Twitter. "People and cars in water."
The collapse happened on Thursday evening about 7 p.m. local time and the portion of the bridge that collapsed was four lanes wide, The Associated Press reported. The bridge was not considered structurally deficient but was listed as being "functionally obsolete," meaning the design was no longer in use given the narrow shoulders and low clearance, according to a database compiled by the Federal Highway Administration.
Federal records showed that the bridge was built in 1955 and was being inspected every two years. According to a 2012 Skagit County Public Works Department report, just under half of all bridges in the county are more than 50 years old. Two bridges are over 80 years old.